From the December 11 version of the Citizen’s Voice:
WILKES-BARRE - Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban and Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla voted Thursday to introduce a $127.2 million budget with an 18.5 percent tax hike.
But both commissioners said revenue and cost totals in the preliminary budget, along with the proposed tax rate of 5.3715 mills, would likely change when commissioners adopt a final budget on Dec. 30.
"I'm going to vote to put the budget on the table, but I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not going to vote on this tax increase," Mr. Urban said. "And I'll vote to shut this place down on Dec. 30, if we don't have a budget that makes sense to me and we don't have the spending cuts that I believe are necessary to move this county forward. â€¦ I am asking the unions to come forward and cooperate with us, not file grievances, and cooperate with us, as much as you can, to help lower costs."
Yeah, this is where the proposed budget becomes a work of fiction. As a cost-cutting measure, it has been proposed that county employees be furloughed in lieu of pay for a number of days that have yet to be determined. Unionized employees, very many of these would be.
And if we know anything about unions, we know that they’d watch their employers go bankrupt before agreeing to any significant concessions. And this is especially true of public sector unionized employees, who seem to view their employers--the taxpayers--as a bottomless source of revenue.
Actually, when you include teachers, the argument can easily be made that unionized public sector employees are bankrupting municipalities, small, large and otherwise. And to argue against that fact is proof of one’s union membership.
So if the unionized county employees will not go along with the proposed furlough plan, then the 2010 budget is in even rougher shape than previously envisioned. And as the upcoming tax hike hovers somewhere between 8 and 18 percent as the jawboning between the commissioners continues, the smart money goes on 18 percent, if not higher.
Commissioner Greg Skrep-enak [sic] on Thursday voted against the introduction of a budget. Mr. Skrepenak doesn't want to eliminate any county jobs and said he changed his mind Thursday about supporting a tax increase.
Management 101...follow me here Gregypoo: As revenues dip, so must the expenses dip. And since salaries, benefits and perks (legal or otherwise) constitute the great majority of the budget, guess where you should start when austerity comes a callin’?
Another issue is the row officers objecting to further budgetary constraints. A budget is only as good as the people implementing it. And if the row officers do not stay within their budgetary guidelines, if they overspend, what can the commissioners do about it? Uh, nothing?
Anyway, say it with me here folks…Unionized government employees equals increased debt.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
In other news…
Deputy Controller A.J. Martinelli will not be back in January when Walter Griffith is sworn in as the new controller. Martinelli will be replaced by Kingston accountant Frank Pinaccoli Jr.
And controller-elect Walter Griffith has also added a new solicitor, Thomas J. Mosca, Esquire, of MOSCA LAW OFFICES, Kingston.
And with $466 million in outstanding debts, with $28 million in debt service payments due in 2010, and with the corruption scandal still swirling all about, we need the controller’s office to be on it’s game as we trudge on forward.
Or is it, crawl?